Monday, March 28, 2011

Origins of Radical Catholicism XIV: The Apostolic Delegation, part 2

Rome was  becoming aware that not only was the United States coming to be a world player but that the American Church was going down its own path due to a remarkable degree of freedom from Roman oversight; and Pope Leo XIII was quite determined to have a Nuncio, or at least an Apostolic Delegate, in the United States.  When Denis O’Connell, rector of the North American College presented Leo with the Peter’s Pence collection in 1891, the pope lamented that the bishops did not want a papal representative in the United States.  Leo attributed this to the bishops being jealous lest any of their power be diminished.  O’Connell said that the pope wasn’t angry about this, just more disappointed or saddened.  He wasn’t to be sad for long, however.  He had a plan and Gibbons knew it.  The only challenge was how to make the pope’s plan work for Gibbons and his liberals rather than against them. 
The American bishops were not the only ones who were opposed to having Nuncio or Apostolic Delegate.  Leo’s own curia was a bit of a wasps’ nest—as Roman Curiae inevitably are.  (Curiae is the plural of curia.  It’s Latin for all you Tridentine wanna-bes.)  Cardinal Simeoni of Propaganda Fide was deadly opposed to it as a Vatican Delegation in Washington would remove the American Church from his jurisdiction (with the financial benefits accrued thereto) and place it directly under the Secretariat of State.  (The fiscal benefits were heavily unofficial and consisted of what we may call “gratuities” that bishops, monsignors, and other petitioners would render to have their matters “expedited.”   While we moderns, especially Americans, naively consider such courtesies by the vulgar term “bribes” they were—and are—standard protocol in many bureaucracies.  After all, Gammarelli’s doesn’t give away those purple socks for nothing, you know.)  In any event, Propaganda Fide didn’t want to lose the American trade which is why Cardinal Rampolla of the Secretariat of State  had told Gibbons not to let on to Propaganda that he and two of the American Archbishops were to come to Rome to discuss the planned Delegation with Rampolla’s office.  Rampolla meant to steal Simeoni’s American clients for his own shop.  In the event it didn’t quit work out that way and even though an American Delegation would be established in 1892, and despite Leo’s word to O’Connell that such a Delegation would remove the United States from control by Propaganda Fide, it would be sixteen more years and another pope before the American Church was freed from Propaganda Fide supervision.  By that time the Catholic Church in America would be even more firmly under the Roman thumb due to changes in the American hierarchy and the links between the Papal Secretary of State—Cardinal Merry del Val and his buddy, “Wild Bill” O’Connell, Cardinal Archbishop of Boston.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
As I had written earlier, O’Connell and the liberals were determined that if there had to be a delegation, they wanted to be able in some way to exercise some control over it.  They determined that the best way would be a two-step process of getting the Delegate—who was to be Francesco Satolli—into the United States on one pretext and then, once there to announce him as the new Apostolic Delegate.  This would get the Delegate into the States without anti-Catholic protests over the establishment of a papal foothold in Washington (even though it was not an official embassy to the American Government, but simply a delegation to the Catholic Church in the United States) and it would also get the new Delegate into the United States without Corrigan and the conservative wing of the hierarchy knowing what was afoot.  Moreover, by overseeing the process of establishing the Delegation, Gibbons and the liberals would have the Delegate in their debt, and hopefully in their trust.  It would work—until the liberals, as usual, overplayed their hand.  It worked like this.  Gibbons met with Benjamin Harrison’s Secretary of State, John Foster, and had the Vatican invited to exhibit at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1892.  (Ever read The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson? Great book!)   The Vatican sent various maps and mosaics along with Satolli as a personal representative of the Pope to the exhibition.  Denis O’Connell would accompany Satolli to New York where Gibbons was to have a railway carriage ready to bring Satolli to Baltimore from where he would travel to Chicago.  After the exhibition’s opening on October 12, 1892, Satolli would go to Washington.  Satolli was not yet appointed as Apostolic Delegate; that would happen only after he was in the United States and presumably after the 1892 presidential election so as not to become a political issue.  The next task for the liberals was how to throw a cream pie in Corrigan’s face so as to embarrass the conservatives as Satolli passed through New York.  today's image is the window of Gammarelli's (aka "Glamourelli's"), haberdasher to popes and prelates (and prelate wanna be's) for three hundred years--sort of the Popes' Norman Hartnell, though rumor has it that Benedict has shifted tailors to a more discreet firm.   

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